Keeping your dog cool


Did you know your dog could actually die from heat exhaustion? 

This is not something that just happens in hot cars, your dog can easily overheat when you are out and about with your dog or even in your own backyard. 

What to look out for if you are worried your dog has been too hot 

  • Excessive panting  
  • Bright red tongue and gums 
  • Unsteadiness of weakness 
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea 
  • Collapse and eventually seizures 

If you see your dog panting excessively but is OK otherwise - use wet towels to try and cool them down.  Place the towels in the groin area and under their front legs (armpits).  Blood flows close to the skin surface in these areas and will allow the dog to cool down quicker.  It is not recommended to place your dog in an ice bath as it can cause the body to go into shock. 

If you see any more than panting, such as vomiting, etc this is an emergency, possibly life-threatening situation and your dog needs to be treated by a vet straight away. 


What you can do to keep your dog safe and happy during the summer months? 

We all remember the childhood lesson of staying out the sun between the hours of 11 am and 2 pm.  This rule rings true for dogs as well.  Keep them in the shade between these hours and avoid any strenuous activities. 

Dogs with short noses such as Pugs, Boxers and Bulldogs are especially prone to overheating as they are not able to pant and expel heat as well as dogs with a longer nose. 

If you want to take your dog for a walk in the middle of the day or even early afternoon, place your hand on the path you will be walking on.  Sand is also something that can get very hot and can retain the heat after the sun has subsided.  If you cannot comfortably hold your hand on the surface for more than 30 seconds it will be too hot for your dog as well.  You have nice comfortable shoes on.  Your dog only has its pads, and these can be easily burnt by walking on hot surfaces. 

When your dog is at home, where they are during the day should provide plenty of shade.  Natural shade, from trees or plants, is preferred as man-made structures can hold heat (without insulation) - such as patio covers. 

Also, make sure your dog has access to water (which I am sure everyone does) - but you need to make sure you have several options for water.  If a bowl gets tipped over and that is the only source of water your dog may overheat.  A shell pool is a handy way to have a second water source and is somewhere for your dog to cool off in if they need to.  Try to keep all water sources out of direct sunlight and check daily in summer to ensure they are full.  In the heat of the day, you can add ice to your dog's water, or make an icicle for them to munch on.  Use diluted low salt beef stock to make a frozen treat for your dog in an old butter container or something similar.  You could also freeze some toys in water to encourage your dog to chew the ice. 

Consider trimming the coat of long-haired dogs.  If you don’t want your dog to be completely shorn, ask the groomer to clip your dog's underside (armpits, tummy and groin), this will help to cool your dog considerably without changing their look too much.  Dogs with an undercoat, such as Huskies, should be stripped out as the warmer months start.  A groomer does this with a special tool and a strong blow-drier.  

Taking your dog for a swim can be a great way for you both to cool off.  Just remember to stay out of the sun between 11 am and 3 pm. If your dog is swimming in saltwater, it is possible for them to accidentally ingest enough water to get saltwater poisoning.  It is fairly normal for your dog to vomit and have a soft poo after a day at the beach.  It is not normal for them to continue to vomit though.  If your dog does this they are likely suffering from salt poisoning and can DIE.  Your dog needs emergency veterinary care. 

After swimming in salt or chlorine water rinse your dog off with clean water.  Shampoo no more than once a week.  If your dog is swimming more than once weekly, just use clean water to rinse off the coat.  The salt or chlorine can cause skin irritation and cause the skin to dry out excessively if not rinsed off.  Ears should also be clean with a specific cleaner after every swim or bath.